One of the biggest stories from the last few days has been the Pentagon’s demand that thousands of veterans repay bonuses they received for signing up to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Pentagon claims they were erroneously given by the California National Guard, and now, years later, they’re forcing combat veterans to pay back upwards of $15,000 each. The federal government is insisting on getting its money back, no matter how much financial distress it causes to the men and women who’ve fought to keep this country safe.
“These bonuses were used to keep people in,” Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain and Iraq veteran from Manteca, Calif., told the Los Angeles Times. Van Meter had to refinance his home mortgage to repay $25,000 in reenlistment bonuses and $21,000 in student loan repayments that the Army says he should not have received. “People like me just got screwed.”
“I feel totally betrayed,” said Susan Haley, a combat veteran who served 26 years in the Army along with her husband and oldest son, a medic who lost a leg in combat in Afghanistan. Haley sends the feds $650 a month — a quarter of her family’s income — to pay down $20,500 in bonuses that the Guard says were given to her improperly. She told the Times she may have to sell her house to keep up with the payments.
The irony and hypocrisy in this story is astounding. The federal government wastes billions of dollars every year on everything from useless academic studies to Obamacare. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ran a story in February that called this year a "golden age" for Pentagon waste and claimed that this year's spending will reach "historic" levels.
That waste, fraud, and abuse goes unnoticed. But as soon as the feds find out Purple Heart recipients owe them money, they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.
Sometimes it seems like the federal government’s priorities are from another planet. That’s why hundreds of thousands of Americans have joined the Convention of States Project. An Article V Convention of States has the authority to propose constitutional amendments that force the feds to be fiscally responsible. These amendments can restrict federal spending to certain, limited topics and prohibit them from wasting money on things the American people don’t want or need.